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Subscriber active since. If you've spent any time on social media or in forums that occasionally feature edgy or explicit content, you've likely encountered the acronym, NSFW, that commonly denotes such material. NSFW stands for "not safe for work. A NSFW tag conveys that, unless you're OK with risking a conversation with the HR department, you should avoid looking at this content on a work computer or in the presence of other people.
The NSFW tag began mostly as a reference to warn about sexual content, nudity, or violence, but has evolved to encompass a range of delicate and potentially triggering content for the viewer. NSFW is often attached, in an abundance of caution, to any link or image — even one that's contextually innocent — that might raise eyebrows. For example, a about cleaning on Reddit might include the NSFW tag to a photo of a dirty toilet. On the internet, there are videos and images that extend beyond NSFW — explicit content that's often more graphic and disturbing.
Fortunately, there is also a "not safe for life" NSFL tag that provides an elevated trigger warning. While viewing NSFW content might embarrass you or cause you to be reprimanded, NSFL images or videos have the potential to upset or severely trigger you. Some examples of NSFL content might be a video where a person's death was captured on film, or an image that's not violent in nature but graphic nonetheless, like medical procedures.
You will also occasionally see online content with a "safe for work" SFW deation. Generally, these tags are attached to posts with titles that seem NSFW in nature, but actually aren't. For instance, you might see a Reddit post with an image titled, "I got poison ivy in the worst possible place…" with a SFW tag, indicating the body part in the image isn't graphic in nature and generally safe to view in the presence of others. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options.
Get the Insider App. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation. Free subscriber-exclusive audiobook! Redeem your free audiobook. Smart Home. Social Media. More Button Icon Circle with three vertical dots. Emma Witman. NSFW is an internet acronym that means "not safe for work. On the more extreme end, content may carry a NSFL not safe for life tag to warn about potentially disturbing content. Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories. Loading Something is loading. address. Stay up to date with what you want to know. The history behind the internet acronym and and how to use it in a chat.
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What Does “NSFW” Mean in the Age of Social Media?